Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Sky is Falling (Again)

We constantly hear the cries from Big Traditional Publishing (BTP), telling how whatever new thingie means the End of Books As We Know It.

"Nobody's buying books these days!"--- Uh, yeah, they are, and lots of them. Sure, in these tough times there many be fewer people plunking down thirty bucks for a new formula hardcover, but overall, books are doing quite well.
BUT-- folks who want a good story need not support a big company with $29, while the producer of the work (the writer) gets $1, there are other options.
Writers can now deliver a good book for under $10, and keep a chunk of that for doing the real work.

"Amazon is killing us by being unfair!"--- People don't just use the online retailer for lower prices and convenience, they return for the great customer experience. Amazon has changed the game, no doubt about it. But the lumbering old companies want the clock rolled back to their distribution monopoly.

Writers put up books at Amazon and have enormous distribution and exposure. In many cases, the writer can make more money via that route than going to BTP. And get a book up for sale a hell of a lot quicker than BTP ever can. The way BTP is mistreating so many writers means more work-producers are leaving BTP every day.

"Ebooks are killing us by flooding the market with cheap crap!"--- BTP has tradtionally been in the business of pushing expensive stories on paper, with high costs for printing, shipping, and storage.
With ebooks, those costs have gone away, and a writer can get a book out for a few hundred dollars.

Of course, an easy delivery method has opened the floodgates to many new books, so yes, there's a lot of crap. But there's a lot of very good work as well, that would never have seen the light of day under BTP.  A writer can get editing for a good story, put on a good cover, and compete with the best.

It's the reader, the buyer who decides if the book is crap or not. I've read a great deal of BTP professionally-produced garbage, including NY Times Best-Sellers, so that's no guarantee of quality whatsoever.

And guess what? On Smashwords and Amazon, you can preview sections of the book to check the quality for yourself. You need not pay for crap when you can screen it out in a minute or two of sampling.

As a historical note, this isn't the first time we've heard the shrill cry that a new thingie will flood the market with cheap crap. Remember paperbacks? And yet, all these years later, we still have the sky where it is. Check out this article posted on The Passive Voice.

And for those who think writers won't make any money in the new world of publishing, a good writer now has a better chance of making money than any other time in history.

Why should we, who have spent many years learning craft give away our time and expertise?
Harlan Ellison said it best: "Pay the Writer!"

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